It is not often after finishing a book that I feel the incessant need to write about it, but whenever it happens I know that I have been truly gifted with an unforgettable reading experience.
When I was younger, my older sister was obsessed with the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Naturally, I would then be forced to watch it with her. Honestly, I don’t think eleven-year-old Liz truly understood what was going on, but rather was just confused as to why Elizabeth Swann was falling in love with someone other than Will Turner.
Still, I watched the movie countless times. I listened to my sister talk about how it was her favorite movie of all time, how she desired to read the book, how it became her favorite book of all time, and I just absorbed it all. I guess I was predisposed to a love for the story because of this, but I didn’t truly admire it until much later.
It wasn’t until this past year in college, when I suddenly had the urge to watch a period drama, that I revisited the film and had a dramatic reaction. I became so engrossed in the film that I continued to watch it night after night. I immediately purchased a copy of the novel in order to immerse myself in Meryton the way Jane Austen intended me to.
Reading the novel became an escape from the picturesque Disney world I’ve been living in for the past month. As much as I’ve been loving my life here, sometimes I require a different form of escapism – one that features more wit and intellect that only reading can provide. The book only cemented in me that I long to live in a Victorian novel. I belong in a world of long, flowing dresses and extravagant balls, where the entertainment came from the neighborhood gossip and the best way to meet someone was to dance with them. A world where elegant letters are exchanged between friends and lovers instead of a simple text message.
Whenever I opened the book, my soul would fill with light. The world that Austen creates is so easily romanticized because she romanticizes it herself. The love affair between Lizzie and Darcy is passionate, ill-tempered, and high strung, but it never once seems boring. The language flows through time itself to bring across the same emotions that Austen intended – when Lizzie tells Darcy
“I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry,”
I am able to very clearly understand what she is feeling. I have felt that abhorrence for someone who has hurt me and my family many times throughout my life and I immediately am able to channel that emotion through Austen’s diction. Conversely, when Darcy tells Lizzie
“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you,”
I also feel the same burning desire to tell someone my true emotions towards them. I’ve experienced the sort of love that makes it impossible to stay quiet about it, and it’s intriguing and exciting to me that a novel written in 1813 reflects so clearly on my life now.
At this point, I’m not quite sure if this love letter to the novel is making a lot of sense, but before I move onto the next book on my shelf (Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book) I need to let go of Netherfield Park. I will not be able to transport myself into another world until I have properly grieved and said goodbye to this one.
So, adieu, Pride and Prejudice. Reading you has been one of my favorite adventures, and I can’t wait to revisit you again someday.